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March 26, 2005

Zach Johnson


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Zach Johnson, thank you for joining us, good two days of golf for you.

ZACH JOHNSON: Thank you.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You finished up 9-under par, currently in 2nd place in the clubhouse. Maybe talk about your round. Tough finish for you but you've got to be happy with your position going into the final 36 holes.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, thanks. There's significantly more positives today than negatives. I hit the ball pretty good all day.

I had two drives today that just were pulls and it went in the rough on one hole, and then obviously on 18 I hit it in the water. That was a little frustrating, but all in all, I'm very pleased with where I'm at, and I'm hitting my irons all right and I'm hoping to get the 72 holes in.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You made a nice up-and-down on 18 to make double. Talk about your mind set there.

ZACH JOHNSON: I knew where the pin was on the tee, too. I should have obviously hit it further right on the first drive because it's a very accessible pin to lay up and try to make par if you have to.

You know, I had a bad lie in the rough, and David said we can get this up-and-down, so I took my medicine after my water shot and laid up and fortunately was able to get up-and-down. Would have, could have, should have, I guess one of those things. But I had a good putt and ended on a good note. I had a good five-footer right in the hole, so that's what I'm focusing on.

Q. If you leave aside your score, whatever you're under par, whatever happened on one simple hole, if you just look at the T2 after 36 holes, is that something that you take the most satisfaction from right now?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, sure. I mean, 36 holes isn't over yet, also. There's still a lot of guys that haven't played. But at the same time, yeah, definitely a lot of satisfaction, especially considering I've probably played now five or six rounds out here, I think.

I like the golf course. It sets up good for me. It's a great test.

So yeah, after 36 holes, there's still 36 holes left, and the way I look at it there's a lot of golf, anything can happen. Especially with the last two finishing holes, 17 and 18. If it's tight coming down the stretch with two guys or ten guys, that's what's -- it's unpredictable. That's the beauty of golf course.

Q. How tough was it to keep your focus? You were here all day yesterday and all day today and did that attribute to some of the miscues?

ZACH JOHNSON: Not really. I only really had two miscues and one was early today when I first started. I actually hit a good second shot out of the rough, but it went to a place that was just dead, long and over the green on 4. And then 18 was my last hole. Aside from those two shots, I really hit the ball pretty well and putted well.

I don't attribute it to the delays. Plus, we're so accustomed to it this year. You have to get used to it. Seven out of 12 weeks?

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Seven out of 13.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, so it's just the nature of Mother Nature.

Q. The perception is it's hard to come to this tournament and play well unless you've played here a bunch of times. What were your expectations coming in here as a rookie, how well you think you could have played?

ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I think like I'm a rookie this year when it comes to this event. This week really wasn't that much different than say last year and the fact that I hadn't seen the golf course as much as most of the veterans, of course, so with that approach and the fact that I finished in the Top 10 the last two times I've played, I guess you could say I was in contention for one of the weeks maybe, you know, your confidence is high. It's just kind of led into that. I like the east coast, I like Florida golf, evidently (laughter). Growing up in the Midwest I would never have thought that, but I'm starting to get accustomed to it.

I think the basic fact is that I'm used to playing tournaments for the first time because I'm still, I guess you could say, young in my career. Being used to that certainly helps, but I think in time it'll help to be more accustomed to the golf courses. Does that make any sense?

Q. Because the course is playing so different, do you think having that experience is important this week?

ZACH JOHNSON: So different, you mean saturated-wise?

Q. Yeah.

ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know any different. I haven't played the golf course when it's firm. It would be a different monster altogether. There would be a lot of different clubs off the tee and a lot of different approaches into the greens.

Yeah, the scores, I can't guarantee it but I don't think they'd be as low as they are now after two rounds.

Q. How would you characterize east coast golf?

ZACH JOHNSON: Fairly flat. I mean, are you talking just Florida or the east coast in general?

Q. Well, you said east coast, but characterize Florida golf?

ZACH JOHNSON: I would say Florida golf is flat, flat and grainy. You know, I'm comparing it to the West Coast, comparing it to the Midwest. Midwest is usually bent, pretty true greens overall. These are true greens, don't get me wrong, but overall you get a little grainier, and having Damon Green on my bag who's from Florida, he's a phenomenal grain reader and reads greens on these type of surfaces, whether it's rye or Bermuda, very well, and that's helped me. He can't read bent a lick, but that's where I grew up.

Q. But your victory came at a hilly golf course.

ZACH JOHNSON: It did, Atlanta. In speaking about east coast, I would not consider that east coast. Is that what you're asking?

Q. How does that fit into the scheme of --

ZACH JOHNSON: You know, that was one week where I had also played two years prior, so I had played that golf course once before. Not only that, but they do have bentgrass greens, and that's what I grew up on, very hard, very fast typically. I was frankly used to those.

Q. You said out there that at 18 you took a little too aggressive of a line. Do you look at what happened there as more of a mental mistake than a bad swing?

ZACH JOHNSON: You know, it was probably more of a bad swing. I mean, I was lined up significantly right of that, and that thing started a good 20 yards left of my target and then hooked, so it was just a poor swing.

I wanted to end on a good note and I bit the bullet, but that's all right. I guess you could say I did. I made a good putt for double. Every shot counts, so there's the positive.

Q. Did you run into many mud balls out there today?

ZACH JOHNSON: Not really. We were lift, clean and placing it in the fairway, but even so, the times I was in the fairway -- it's one of those days where there's the perfect amount of rain on the grass so it just kind of skids. If we were not to get much rain and the sun would come out, you would see mud balls, significantly more mud balls, but we're lift, clean and place.

Q. Perks won this his first time playing it, Adam wins it last year, the youngest winner the second or third time. You're playing well, Vaughn Taylor is playing well. This place is supposed to have a learning curve. Are you guys that smart?

ZACH JOHNSON: I can't speak on behalf of them. I don't think I am (laughter). The way I characterize my game is pretty simple-stupid to where I kind of like it. I try to keep it simple.

I don't know, I mean, the golf course is set up for some low numbers, this golf course is right now, and if you get it going, you can make -- the greens are perfect, even though they are wet. The fairways are holding because it is wet, so if you're driving it well and putting well, you can put a good number in, and that's not much of an answer but it's all I've got.

Q. Players come in and tell us that they all count the same, all 18 holes, but are you good at telling yourself that, or does the last hole, good or bad, stay with you for the rest of the night?

ZACH JOHNSON: I've pretty much already forgotten about it. It sticks with me, but as I told a lot of the media out there, I got up-and-down from 90 yards. Regardless of what the number says on the score card, that's two shots that I hit perfect that I will think about if I'm waiting for my first tee shot on No. 1 hopefully tomorrow.

Q. Regarding the conditions, we've heard a lot of comments this week about how golf is meant to be played and we've heard some comments from players about how golf should be played. What's the difference? How is golf to be played?

ZACH JOHNSON: Pertaining to the weather?

Q. Up or down?

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, depends on what point of view you're coming from. If you're coming from the USGA's point of view, then yes, you should play the golf ball down. However, with scheduling, you don't always have that luxury, and Mother Nature, you can't control it. You can only control so much.

I think they made the right decision. It stunk for some of the guys that played three holes and were playing well but it's good for some of the guys that were playing bad, so it's a tough situation. They kind of call it the fifth major, which I can understand this is an awesome tournament, so they want to play the ball down and it's kind of understandable, but at the same time, based on the forecast, I think they made the right decision. Does that help?

Q. Do you think the U.S. Open under any circumstance would ever play the ball up?


Q. Do you think they ever should?

ZACH JOHNSON: I've only played one U.S. Open. They would have to rewrite their rule book.

Q. There's a local rule in there, though.

ZACH JOHNSON: Local rule where?

Q. In the rule book, isn't there? Play preferred lies?

ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know. I thought that was a part of the PGA TOUR.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: There's one in the appendix, in the USGA rule book.

ZACH JOHNSON: I didn't know. I guess it's possible. Anything is possible. I'll tell you, with what's gone on this year, nothing ceases to amaze me.

Q. Do you think it ever tarnishes a victory if a guy has got the ball in his hand because of mud?

ZACH JOHNSON: No, because everybody is doing it. Everybody is playing the same golf course, same holes, and if you hit it in the middle of the fairway, then John and Joe are both picking it up.

Q. Along the same lines, do you ever think that score should be erased? Guys played three holes yesterday. Do you think in golf those scores should disappear somehow?

ZACH JOHNSON: You guys are challenging me.

Q. We'll make you smart.

ZACH JOHNSON: It's a tough -- I mean, I understand why they did it. I think if you were to ask everybody, they probably should have started playing it up yesterday morning and they wouldn't have had the problem. But they felt they did what was necessary to get the tournament in, and that's their concern. Based on the forecast for the next couple days especially, I think Sunday, tomorrow, is supposed to be pretty poor, and Monday now doesn't look good, either. Based on those two days of forecast, that's a tough decision. I'm glad I had to make it.

Q. One follow-up to that, do you think they'll ever have a shortened tournament for that?

ZACH JOHNSON: We were talking about that. That's a good one. I was trying to go through the options with some of the players, and was it AT & T where they came back?

Q. 1998 they came back six months later.

ZACH JOHNSON: So it was like the end of the summer or whatever.

Q. After the PGA.

ZACH JOHNSON: Like on a Monday, so I guess that's always an option that's way, way off in the distance. They're going to do all they can to get 72 holes in now. I would think -- isn't there some rule stipulating if you can start the fourth round on Monday you can play on Tuesday?

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll have to check on that.

ZACH JOHNSON: I may be wrong on that one, too.

Q. If half the field finishes on Monday.

ZACH JOHNSON: Not if we just start it?

Q. No.

ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know. I don't have any idea. If this was a mini-Tour event, there would be a lot of possibilities (laughter). I mean, I've seen -- oh, my gosh, you wouldn't believe what I've seen.

Q. What's the most creative one you've seen?

ZACH JOHNSON: The most creative one was we had guys --

Q. Hooters?

ZACH JOHNSON: I think it was. We had a wind delay because the greens, you couldn't putt on the greens. I mean, you putted and it would come back at you or roll off the green or whatever. Some guys had played 18 holes, some guys had played nine or close to nine, so they made it like a 45-hole event, and the guys that hadn't quite finished those nine holes that they were picking from went back out there like a day later or something with no cut greens. I mean, it was pathetic. I think the tournament director got canned that day.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could touch on your round. You birdied all four par 5s today, starting with No. 2.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, that's a positive. Yeah, good drive on 2, hit an okay second shot, came up pretty good, a pretty easy chip from probably 35, 40 feet. Hit 3-wood on my second shot, knocked it to about two feet and tapped it in.

No. 4, I pulled my driver left into the rough, and it was one of those lies where we could lay up because of the water and try to get up-and-down but I didn't think I could get enough club on it. It jumped out of there and went over the green. It landed on the back of the green and then we took a pretty sizable kick to 20 yards over the green, 15 yards over the green. Hit my next shot out of the sand trap, got that one out and chipped it down there to about two feet and made that. I got up-and-down for double twice.

7, I hit a good drive, hit a 7-iron to probably about seven feet, pretty straight putt there.

9, I hit a good drive, laid up with a 4-iron and hit a sand wedge that I think I landed like at 114 or 15, spun back, so it probably spun it eight or nine yards to a foot.

11, I hit a good drive, and it was one of those 'tweener clubs there, 3-iron or 2-iron, didn't know what to hit, hit the 2-iron, came up short, not in the bunker surprisingly, and hit a good chip up three and a half feet there, too.

13, I hit a 7-iron to about six, seven feet and hit a good putt.

16, I hit a good drive and hit a 2-iron basically to the middle of the green. I probably had 30 feet for eagle and two-putted that.

18, I pulled my drive left, couldn't find it, and re-teed, hit that in the rough, laid up with a wedge and hit a sand wedge to about four and a half, five feet probably.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: When you re-teed it you hit driver?

ZACH JOHNSON: Driver, yes.

Q. Did we ever find out who the greatest golfer from Iowa ever was? Remember that question?

Is it you?

ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know.

Q. You said you had it on the tip of your tongue at Doral.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, there's been a couple of guys that have won.

Q. Purtzer, we talked about that.

ZACH JOHNSON: Purtzer? They don't claim him. If, in fact, your information is true, they would claim him.

Q. Maybe he was just passing through. I'm pretty sure he was born there.

How about Jack Fleck?

ZACH JOHNSON: He's from there?

Q. From Iowa.

ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I think he's from Dubuque, yeah. There was also an amateur from my hometown, John Jacobs, I think he was leading the U.S. Open after three rounds one year as an amateur. You guys will have to look that one up.

Q. So if you win a U.S. Open you'll be the greatest player from Iowa?

ZACH JOHNSON: That's always a debate.

Q. Is this a good tune-up for Atlanta?

ZACH JOHNSON: I think so, aside from the hills. There's no hills here, but I think this week is very comparable to last week. I think Bay Hill is a good tune-up for this week, I think Atlanta is a good tune-up for Augusta.

End of FastScripts.

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